‘Will I really – I mean, really – actually take an axe, start bashing her on the head, smash her skull to pieces? …Will I really slip in sticky, warm blood, force the lock, steal, tremble, hide, all soaked in blood …axe in hand? …Lord, will I really?’
This new translation of Dostoevsky’s ‘psychological record of a crime’ by Oliver Ready gives his dark masterpiece of murder and pursuit a renewed vitality, expressing its jagged, staccato urgency and fevered atmosphere as never before.
A troubled young man commits the perfect crime – the murder of a vile pawnbroker whom no one will miss. Raskolnikov is desperate for money, but convinces himself that his motive for the murder is to benefit mankind. So begins one of the greatest novels ever written, a journey into the criminal mind, a police thriller, and a philosophical meditation on morality and redemption.
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Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born in Moscow in 1821. His debut, the epistolary novella Poor Folk (1846), made his name. In 1849 he was arrested for involvement with the politically subversive ‘Petrashevsky circle’ and until 1854 he lived in a convict prison in Omsk, Siberia. From this experience came The House of the Dead (1860-2). In 1860 he began the journal Vremya (Time).
Already married, he fell in love with one of his contributors, Appollinaria Suslova, eighteen years his junior, and developed a ruinous passion for roulette. After the death of his first wife, Maria, in 1864, Dostoyevsky completed Notes from Underground and began work towards Crime and Punishment (1866). The major novels of his late period are The Idiot (1868), Demons (1871-2) and The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80). He died in 1881.
Oliver Ready is Research Fellow in Russian Society and Culture at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He is general editor of the anthology, The Ties of Blood: Russian Literature from the 21st Century (2008), and Consultant Editor for Russia, Central and Eastern Europe at the Times Literary Supplement.
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